Thaddeus Wolfe: Unsurfacing at Volume Gallery

Thaddeus Wolfe's Assemblage vases looked mysterious enough when he debuted them in 2011, first for sale with Matter and then with a special edition for Chicago's Volume Gallery — we'd never seen glass before that paired the shape and surface texture of rocks and minerals with amazing fades of opaque color. When we asked him to describe his process to us, it turned out that it was relatively easy to grasp, if not execute: He blew the vessels into faceted plaster-and-silicon molds. His newest take on the series — the Unsurfacing collection for Volume, on view as of tonight — looks even more complicated, layered with fragmented geometric patterns and contrasting colors.
More

Constantin Boym at UrbanGlass

For anyone like us who "grew up," professionally speaking, in the New York design world in the last few decades, it was always with a sense of awareness of and deference to the scene's elder statesmen. Constantin and Laurene Boym, for example, set up Boym Partners back in 1986, and by the time we started circulating in 2005, they still felt markedly omnipresent, both critically and physically speaking. We suppose that's why it felt so surprising when these New York stalwarts up and left town in 2010, after Constantin accepted a two-year tenure as director of graduate design studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. They disappeared from New York design events, parties, exhibitions, and talks, only occasionally sending dispatches to their mailing list about life on the other side of the globe. They returned to New York a year ago, but we hadn't really heard from them until now — with the launch of Constantin's new exhibition at Brooklyn's UrbanGlass, "Learning From the East," which opens this Saturday.
More

Sebastian Herkner’s Pulpo Containers

You might not recognize it at first glance, but Sebastian Herkner's new ultra-shiny glass Containers for the German brand Pulpo have a serious high-low thing going on — and not just in one sense, but two. Not only are they inspired by the cheap plastic containers normally used to store things like distilled water and Cheez-Balls, they're also made using a technique that's gone from rags to riches in recent history. "Mercury glass was once used as a substitute for real silverware, which was too expensive for poor people to afford," says Herkner. "Nowadays, though, it's thought of as unique and rare; there's one company in Czech Republic which specializes in mercury glass, and Pulpo produces the Containers there." Like most of our favorite tastemakers, Herkner's appreciation of both the lowly and the luxurious extends to his personal style, too, which is why we thought it fitting that he should photograph his Containers for us amidst the landscape of his own home, just outside Frankfurt. He told us more about his process and his possessions below.
More

Jerpoint Irish Glass for Makers & Brothers

Anyone who was in New York for our annual Noho Design District event this spring should be familiar with the Irish online homegoods brand Makers & Brothers; they would have been the ones making a beautiful mess on the floor of the Standard East Village hotel, as their woodworker James Wicklow carved stools made from Catskills-grade green ash by hand over the course of four days. But most of what namesake brothers Jonathan and Mark Legge do to showcase their particular brand of native handcrafted goods takes place a bit closer to home — which in their case is a shed located on the same property as their parents' home and architectural practice in Dublin. Since founding their online retail venture less than a year ago, the two have made a point of visiting and documenting the workspaces of the people who create products for them — the basketweaver who grows her own willow on the banks of the River Boyne, the Irish RCA grad who knits stool covers from a warehouse in East London, and, most recently, a family of glassblowers in Kilkenny whose Jerpoint brand drinking vessels the brothers grew up with. When we wrote Jonathan to ask if we could reprint some of their text and photos on Sight Unseen, he confessed he hopes to collaborate soon with Jerpoint — so perhaps a follow-up story will be in the offing for fall. Until then, if you're in Dublin, you can pop by the brothers' shed this weekend for a summer opening. If not, live the Makers & Brothers life vicariously through our excerpt after the jump.
More

Sam Baron’s Personal Collections

As a child growing up in the Jura mountains on a small farm on the border between France and Switzerland, the first thing designer Sam Baron remembers collecting were the stickers you scrape from the skins of fruits, heralding their arrival from someplace exotic — tomatoes from Mexico, say, or bananas from Guadeloupe. “For me, it was like a small souvenir from a trip I had never taken, an invitation to think about someplace else and another way of life,” Baron told me from his studio in Lisbon earlier this fall. Of course these days, the designer needn’t only imagine what life is like in faraway places: As head of the design department at Fabrica and a designer for outfits like Ligne Roset, Secondome Gallery, and Bosa Ceramics, Baron’s work has him constantly jetting from Paris to Milan to Treviso, where Fabrica is based; to Venice, where his glassworks are blown; and back to Lisbon, where he recently opened an office with Fabrica alums Gonçalo Campos and Catarina Carreiras, and where he lives with his wife.
More

Thaddeus Wolfe, Glass Artist

When asked if he identifies more as an artist or a designer, Thaddeus Wolfe seems genuinely stumped. But perhaps it’s that way for anyone working with glass, a material that’s notoriously hard to confine: “I don’t think I’m a great designer,” he muses. “Maybe it’s because I’m not a master of glass yet that I never quite get what I intend. But sometimes cool things happen from mistakes.” It’s a pretty self-deprecating summation of process coming from someone whose chaotic, mysteriously opaque Assemblage vases for MatterMade are the subject of a solo exhibition opening tomorrow at Chicago’s Volume Gallery, which has in the year and a half since it opened become somewhat of a barometer for the Next Big Thing.
More

Carwan Gallery Launch: Lindsey Adelman

Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be showcasing the work of half a dozen designers and design firms exhibiting together at the Milan Furniture Fair under the umbrella of the soon-to-launch Carwan Gallery in Beirut. Today’s subject is Lindsey Adelman, who works out of a tiny studio in the back of Manhattan design store The Future Perfect but creates her sprawling, modular chandelier series at Urban Glass, a Brooklyn atelier that’s created work for the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Eva Zeisel, and Robert Rauschenberg. “Building visual tension is a theme that’s always interested me,” says Adelman. And in her latest work Catch, which features slumping glass orbs blown through oversized brass links, it’s the tension between “the fluid fragility of the glass and the strict, flat, weighty links. Mashing together the feminine and the masculine — something interesting usually happens,” she says.
More

David Wiseman, Designer

For a designer whose most high-profile interiors client is Christian Dior, David Wiseman has none of the flamboyance you might expect — neither the stylized degeneracy of John Galliano nor the leather chaps–wearing showmanship of Peter Marino, the architect who in the past year-and-a-half has hired Wiseman to create massive, site-specific installations in his newly renovated Dior flagships from Shanghai to New York. Rather, Wiseman is a 29-year-old RISD grad whose studio is located in a former sweatshop in the industrial Glassell Park area of Los Angeles, just behind an unmarked door in the shadow of a taco truck.
More

Max Lamb’s Personal Collections

At the London Design Festival in 2009, Apartamento magazine collaborated with local furniture wunderkind Max Lamb on a show called “The Everyday Life Collector.” The title referred to Lamb’s father, Richard, who had spent more than 15 years surrounding himself with British studio pottery, of which 400 examples were on view. But while age might have given him a leg up in the volume department, it turned out that the elder Lamb wasn’t the only one with the collecting bug: Max, too, admitted to joining his dad at flea markets from time to time and almost never coming home empty-handed. So when we had the idea to start a new column called Inventory — for which we’d ask subjects to photograph a group of objects they found meaningful — we turned to Max first, and he didn’t disappoint. He sent us 10 images of the collections on display in his live-work studio in London, then gave us a personal tour.
More

John D’Agostino’s Empire of Glass

On the photography blog Feature Shoot: An interview with artist John D'Agostino, who uses smashed stained-glass Tiffany windows from the 1930s as photographic negatives. D'Agostino's grandfather rescued the shards from the East River when Tiffany's studio was being torn down; the grime crusted on them from being stored away for 75 years now forms a crucial part of his imagery. "The layers of detritus on the surface of the glass have decomposed into wonderful biomorphic forms [that] combine with the layers of color underneath," he says. "This creates a dialogue between past and present."
More

J. & L. Lobmeyr

Since its founding six generations ago, Lobmeyr has tended to follow its own compass rather than listening to the whims of the market — in other words, it’s never been afraid to be a little bit different. It’s why the company moved from its original role as glass merchants to manufacturers; what inspired a relationship with the radical designers of the Wiener Werkstätte; and why the company today collaborates with designers like Polka, whose 2008 beer glasses boast an engraving based on the goals scored during a 1978 soccer match between Austria and Germany.
More

Sylvain Willenz’s Print Lamp for Established & Sons

Imagine you’d never driven a car before. A bike, sure, but never an automated vehicle — until one day the head of the Indianapolis 500 called you up out of the blue, inviting you down to the track to do unlimited test laps under the guidance of his star drivers. That’s pretty much what happened to Belgian designer Sylvain Willenz in 2008, except that instead of cars it was glass, a material with which he was wholly unfamiliar before arriving at the famed European glassmaking research center CIRVA, where he'd been hand-picked for a residency. Slightly less sexy than a Maserati, but a dream for a young talent like Willenz. “A lot of amazing artists have come through here: Richard Deacon, Gaetano Pesce, Sottsass, the Bouroullecs, Pierre Charpin,” he says, speaking from his room at the 27-year-old Marseilles facility, which is funded by the French government. “The idea is not to end up with something, but to try something. They’re very open to people coming here who don’t know anything about glass, like me — and that that’s what’s going to produce something interesting.”
More